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New landscaping business gets preliminary approval

WORTHINGTON -- The Nobles County Planning Commission approved two conditional use permits during its Wednesday night meeting in Worthington, including one for development of a landscape supply business in rural Worthington, and one for the construction of a new hog confinement barn near Rushmore. Both permits will now advance to the Nobles County Board of Commissioners for consideration at their Feb. 8 meeting.

Jessica Behnke's permit request was to operate Rural Rock, Inc., in the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 16, Lorain Township. Plans are to construct a 60- by 90-foot building on the property to store machinery, with landscape materials to be stored outside.

"We are supplying rock, dirt and other landscaping supplies to general contractors and the general public," Behnke told the planning commission. The business began operating last summer, with plans to expand this year. With the expansion, there will be additional truck traffic on the road, and neighbor Mike Ahlers asked Wednesday night if dust control measures could be considered.

"We'll want to make everyone happy and work with the neighbors," Behnke said.

Planning Commission members approved the request as presented, and wished Behnke well in her new venture.

"I think it's wonderful a young couple wants to get started in business, and this is what we need," said Nobles County Commissioner Diane Thier, who serves as the county's representative on the planning commission.

A conditional use permit requested by Son-D-Farms of Adrian will allow for the construction of a 74- by 142-foot total confinement barn for farrowing pigs in the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of Section 27, Olney Township. There will not be any change in the number of animal units at the site, as an existing barn will be torn down.

No public comment was given related to the request, and the planning commission approved the permit with several conditions that were set in place in 2002, including that the good neighbor policy be adhered to, that there be an enclosed containment structure for dead animals, that manure be incorporated and that all necessary permits be obtained from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Wednesday night's meeting also included an update from Mark Koster, Nobles County Environmental Officer, on the success of the Household Hazardous Waste facility; and a report from Alan Langseth, Nobles County Feedlot Officer.

Koster said he is seeing an increase in the number of people utilizing the product exchange room, where people can drop off or pick up paints, stains, varnishes and other household products. He also reported that in 2010, the facility collected and recycled 22,000 pounds of electronic equipment and 68 car and truck batteries, among numerous other items.

In Langseth's report, he said the county had 484 feedlots in 2010, of which 25 were in shore land areas that had from 10 to 299 animal units. Outside of shore land areas, he said there were 265 feedlots in the 50 to 299 animal unit category, 167 in the 300 to 1,000 animal unit class and 27 feedlots that required NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits in the county.

Nobles County Environmental Services Director Wayne Smith announced that the county received an additional $3,000 for operation of the feedlot program earlier this month for "going above and beyond the requirements."

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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